Every day you walked no matter where you lived from Woodlawn in the Bronx south to Eltingville, Staten Island you felt like you needed to take a broom yourself to sweep the street. Whether it was dirty or not, you thought the streets were filthy, and out of control.
The overall strength of the NYPD was down. Cops had been laid off and the City went bust. Correction Officers, Firefighters took lay-offs too. When city workers went to local banks to cash their municipal paychecks the tellers said sorry, we can’t knowingly take commercial paper that we know won’t stop bouncing until it hits the moon.
They closed firehouses, cut services. Neighborhoods burned. Corporations took the hint and said do not worry we will stay, and then in the middle of the night headed for the winterless south where wages were lower, unions were red flags to bulls, and chief executives–when not figuring out how to cut worker benefits–could spend their time in madras pants wearing shirts with reptile logos and watching golf course caddies smile for tips for handing the correct iron to hit a ball. When asked about New York they could say: Let them eat their tuition-free City University, close their free-standing health clinics, shut a few municipal hospitals. And that’s just the start. Air-condition the subways? We don’t have subways. We have federally funded highways. We have the real America.
The year 1977 had all that and as usual before the Democratic Primary, the unexpected event that turns an election and sends the pundit consultants to their caves where no one could find them. They had it just plain wrong. We have a riot. Stores on commercial strips in neighborhoods nearing death, die. We have neighborhoods, whole blocks, that look as if they have been hit by day-light airborne bombing.
Once liberal Manhattan congressman Ed Koch converted electoral religion includes calls for use of the death penalty. He sees his chances and he took them.
His brand of outer-borough populism stirs the New work nationalist souls of the outer-borough ethnics. They say yes Koch, no to the rest including another 1977 mayoral candidate, Mario M. Cuomo.
The Koch voters have gone the way of all flesh–either to Florida or to that other place the sane choose to avoid.
Eric Adams’ slim victory came from the new outer-borough ethnics. Like their predecessors, they too are the people who keep this city running. They are the strivers, they own homes, they want their children to succeed, and they want to safely walk their streets. They want cops to respect them and will if respected gladly help cops disrespect criminals. They want clean streets, and they want public transportation that is safe, with subway cars that are not dormitories for our homeless. They want someone to blab less and instead yell at the MTA to improve lousy southeast queens bus service.
They want Eric Adams. He is ready to fight for the outer boroughs. Just like that other fellow did during his first two terms. Yes. Edward Irving Koch.